Ten priests celebrating golden jubilees

2016 marks 50 years in the priesthood



Father Richard Ament, retired, was born Aug. 28, 1940, the youngest of Herman and Frances (Grace) Ament’s five children. After completing high school at St. Paul, Worthington, in 1958, he went to Loras College and then took theological studies at Mount St. Bernard Seminary, both in Dubuque. He was ordained June 4, 1966, by Bishop Loras J. Watters at St. Raphael Cathedral, Dubuque. Father Ament attended the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., for six summers in pursuit of a master’s degree in religion and religious education, which was awarded in 1972. His first assignment was as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Dubuque, 1966-70, and to teach at Wahlert Catholic High School. In 1970, he was transferred to St. Jude Parish, Cedar Rapids, and as part-time teacher at LaSalle High School in the religion department. He joined the team ministry at St. John Parish, Waterloo, and St. Nicholas Parish, Evansdale, in 1977. For seven years, he also taught at Columbus High School in the religion department. From 1984-87, he served at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and Catholic Student Center in Ames as part of the pastoral team. In 1987, he moved into rural ministry in Benton County to the cluster of St. John Parish, Blairstown; St. Paul Parish, Newhall; St. Michael Parish, Norway; Immaculate Conception Parish, Van Horne; and St. Patrick Parish, Watkins. Father Ament was pastor in Blairstown, Norway and Watkins and associate pastor in Newhall and Van Horne from August 1989 to July 1993. He was moderator of that team ministry, 1989-1993. In 1993, he was transferred to the North Linn Cluster — St. Stephen Parish, Central City; St. John the Evangelist Parish, Coggon; and St. Joseph Parish, Prairieburg. In addition to serving those parishes over the next six years, he was sacramental chaplain at the Iowa State Men’s Reformatory, Anamosa. In 1999, he was appointed pastor of St. Jude Parish, Cedar Rapids, serving until summer 2005. Father Ament was then assigned to Notre Dame Parish, Cresco, in 2005, where he was pastor until his retirement in 2010. He was part of the Archdiocesan Rural Life Ministry Office and a member of the Board of the Ecumenical Rural Outreach Program, Church’s Center for Land and People of Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. He served on the Priests’ Council several times, the Vision 2000 Planning Committee and as a consultor for several years. Father Ament will celebrate his jubilee with a Mass at St. Lawrence Parish, Otter Creek, on June 4 at 4 p.m., with a reception to follow (until 8 p.m.).


Father Donald Bakewell, retired, was born Jan. 12, 1940, in New Albin to Vincent and Veronica (Schulte) Bakewell. He graduated from Loras College, Dubuque, and completed his theological studies at Mount St. Bernard Seminary, also in Dubuque. He was ordained June 4, 1966, at St. Raphael Cathedral, Dubuque, by Bishop Loras Watters. He served as associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish, Elkader, 1966-69; Sacred Heart Parish, Oelwein, 1969-72; St. Joseph Parish, Cresco, and Holy Cross Parish, Schley, 1972-79; and St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Dubuque, 1979-81. He also taught and served as guidance counselor at Sacred Heart High School, Oelwein, 1969-72, and at Notre Dame High School, Cresco, 1972-79. He was an administrator at St. Francis Parish, Barclay, and a member of the faculty as guidance counselor at Don Bosco High School, Gilbertville, 1981-87. He was pastor of St. Mary Parish and director of St. John School of Religion, both in New Hampton, 1987-93. He was pastor at St. John Parish, Andrew, 1993-94. He was pastor of SS. Peter and Paul, Springbrook, and St. Joseph, Preston, and sacramental priest at St. Peter, Sabula, 1993-2002, and priest supervisor at St. Cath­erine Parish, St. Catherine, and St. Donatus Parish, St. Donatus, 2000-2002. He served as executive secretary and executive coordinator of the Bellevue Area Elementary and Marquette School System, Bellevue, 1993-2002. He served as ACCW Bellevue Deanery moderator, 1993-2002, and dean of the Bellevue Deanery, 2000-2002. He was pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Key West, from 2002 until his retirement in 2012. “It has been a most rewarding experience to serve as priest for all the people in the parishes I was privileged to serve these 50 years. I am most grateful for their help and friendship,” Father Bakewell said. “Let us continue to remember each other in prayer.” Father Bakewell will observe his 50th jubilee in conjunction with a family reunion at Waukon, his hometown and home parish, on Saturday, June 25.


Father Robert Beck, professor emeritus of religious studies at Loras College in Dubuque, was born Aug. 28, 1940, in Waterloo to Paul C. Beck and Mildred A. Klein (Beck). He earned a bachelor’s degree from Loras College and a master’s degree in theology from Mt. St. Bernard Seminary, both in Dubuque. He was ordained June 4, 1966, by Bishop Loras J. Watters at St. Raphael Cathedral, Dubuque. Father Beck was an associate pastor at St. Col­umbkille Parish, Du­buque, 1966-71, and assistant chaplain of the University of Northern Iowa’s St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center, 1971-73. In 1973, Father Beck joined the faculty at the Aquinas Institute, Dubuque. He left the Aquinas faculty in 1981, when Aquinas was moved to St. Louis. Father Beck then transferred to Loras College. He studied at the Ecole Biblique de Jerusalem, 1977-78. In 1978-1980, he worked toward a Doctor of Ministry degree at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. In 1981, he joined the faculty of Loras College and in 1984 was appointed to the Archdiocesan Worship Commission. Father Beck was named chaplain at Visitation Convent, Dubuque, in 1987. He has served as chaplain at Mount St. Francis Convent, Dubuque, since 1998. For the 1999-2000 academic year, he was the inaugural recipient of the John Cardinal O’Connor Endowed Chair for Catholic Thought. Father Beck has also written music. His most well known pieces are his version of the Lord’s Prayer generally known as “Beck’s Our Father,” as well as the songs he wrote for his musical “MARK.” He is the author of several books: “Nonviolent Story: Narrative Conflict Resolution in the Gospel of Mark,” “Banished Messiah: Violence and Nonviolence in Matthew’s Story of Jesus” and “A Bible Study Program Using the Sunday Lectionary: Taking Your Bible Study Group to the Next Level.” Father Beck currently writes a weekly column in The Witness called “Sunday’s Word.” “I am gratified to have been able to spend much of my life studying and teaching Scripture,” Father Beck said of his 50 years as a priest.   He will preside over an anniversary liturgy at the Mt. St. Francis motherhouse on Saturday, June 4, at 4:30 p.m.


Father Ronald Friedell, retired, was born Aug. 3, 1940, to Elmer and Marie (Zugenbuehler) Friedell of Dubuque. He graduated from Loras College and completed his theological studies at Mount St. Bernard Seminary, both in Dubuque. He was ordained June 4, 1966, by Bishop Loras Watters at St. Raphael Cathedral, Dubuque. He was the associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Dubuque, 1966; Immaculate Conception Parish, Gilbertville, 1966-71, while teaching at Don Bosco High School. He was a member of team ministry at St. John Parish, Waterloo, and St. Nicholas Parish, Evansdale, 1971-75. He was associate pastor of St. Matthew Parish, Cedar Rapids, 1975-79; St. Patrick Parish, Waukon, and St. John the Baptist Parish, West Ridge, 1979-80; and St. Francis Xavier Parish, Dyersville, 1980-83. He was a member of team ministry in Mason City and chaplain at Mercy Hospital, 1983-85. He received clinical pastoral training at St. Mary’s Hospital and Methodist Hospital, Rochester, Minnesota. Father Friedell was associate pastor of St. Raphael Parish and part-time chaplain of Mercy Medical Center, both in Dubuque, 1985-86. He was chaplain of Mercy Medical Center, 1986-92. He was pastor of St. Joseph Parish, State Center, and part-time chaplain of Iowa Veterans Home, Marshalltown, 1992-98. He was the parochial administrator in Rockford, 1998-99. He was the pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Epworth, 1999-2000; administrator at St. John Parish, Placid, 2000; and pastor of St. Mary Parish, McGregor, and St. Patrick Parish, Monona, 2000-02. He was the chaplain of Holy Family Hall at Mount St. Francis Convent, Dubuque, 2003-10, with priestly responsibilities at St. Columbkille Parish, Dubuque, 2003-05. From 2005-10, he was also the chaplain of Stonehill Care Center, Dubuque. Since his retirement in 2010, Father Friedell has continued as chaplain of Clare House at Mount St. Francis. Looking back on the 50 years since his ordination, Father Friedell said, “Thank God for the gift of the priesthood and to serve God’s people in a priestly way. That is why I decided to be a priest; to give people the greatest gift.” He will celebrate his jubilee with a Mass at Clare House on June 5 at 10:30 a.m. and again with a Mass at St. Columbkille Parish on Aug. 7 at noon.


Father Donald Klein, retired, was born June 29, 1940, in Waterloo to Henry and Mary (Smith) Klein. He graduated from St. John’s High School, Independence, in 1958 and from Loras College, Dubuque, in 1962. He completed his theological studies at the North American College and the Gregorian University, Rome. In 1970, he earned a degree in education from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. He was ordained July 11, 1965, at the Church of the Twelve Apostles, Rome, by the Most Rev. Francis Reh, rector of the North American College. He was the assistant pastor of St. Joseph Parish and faculty member of Newman High School, both in Mason City, 1966-69. He was the assistant principal of Regis High School, Cedar Rapids, 1970-74, and principal there, 1974-83. He was the campus pastor of St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, 1983-93. The new Catholic student center was dedicated in April 1991. He was the pastor of St. Pius X Parish, Cedar Rapids, from 1993 until his retirement in 2010. The remodeled St. Pius X Church was dedicated in June 2004. He was the executive coordinator of Regis Middle School, Cedar Rapids, 1998-2010. He served the broader archdiocese in several capacities: College of Consultors; dean of the Cedar Rapids Deanery; chair of the Priest Council; Personnel Advisory Board; Finance Council; Seminary Board; Iowa Catholic Conference Board; Archdiocesan Director of Campus Ministry; and Vision 2000 Committee. “I have been blessed to work with so many good friends in so many varied ways in my priestly life and ministry. I am full of gratitude to God as I celebrate my priesthood jubilee,” Father Klein said. “The common thread of the story of my years as a priest is the experience of the Second Vatican Council. The four years I was in Rome was identical to the four years of The Council. Rooted in the Sacred Scriptures and the wisdom of the Council, I was privileged to celebrate and work to integrate the “New Pentecost” of Pope John XXII into liturgy, faith formation and social justice …” Father Klein had a formal celebration of his jubilee last summer at St. Pius X Parish.


Msgr. Lyle Wilgenbusch is currently pastor of St. Athanasius Parish, Jesup, and St. Francis Parish, Barclay. He began serving these two parishes in 2014. He was born in Dubuque on September 8, 1940, to Lawrence and Cecilia (Theisen) Wilgenbusch. He has one brother, Wayne, of Dubuque. He graduated from Loras Academy and Loras College, and then took his theological training at Mount St. Bernard Seminary, all in Dubuque. His home parish is Holy Ghost Parish, Dubuque. He was ordained June 4, 1966, by Bishop Loras Watters at St. Raphael Cathedral, Dubuque. His first year of priesthood saw a variety of assignments: St. Joseph Parish, Bellevue; Immaculate Conception Parish, Cedar Rapids; Newman High School, Mason City; St. Patrick Parish, Monona; Holy Trinity Parish, Walford. In these, he served either as associate pastor, faculty member or parish administrator. In August 1967, he was assigned to St. Mary Parish, Manchester, where he served for four years. After earning a master’s degree in religious education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he began 17 years of teaching: Wahlert High School, Dubuque, (1971-1979) and Regis High School, Cedar Rapids (1979-1988). As pastor, he served St. Mary, Waverly (1988-94) and St. Joseph the Worker, Dubuque (1994-2004). In 2004, he was named episcopal vicar of the Waterloo Region, serving until 2014. Fr. Wilgenbusch also served as Catholic chaplain of Boy Scouting in the archdiocese for 20+ years. He will celebrate a Mass at Holy Ghost Parish, Dubuque, on June 4 at 4:15 p.m. This will be offered for his two deceased classmates and brother priests, Father James Blocklinger and Father Vern Schueller. They died within a week of each other in 2014. On June 19, he will celebrate a Mass at 1:30 p.m. at St. Athanasius, Jesup, with an open house reception until 5 p.m. at the Jesup parish. No gifts are requested. But if people must, in keeping with the Year of Mercy, a gift can be made to Loras College, Catholic Charities or a charity of choice.


Father Dennis Colter, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Cedar Falls, was born Dec. 19, 1940, in Waterloo to Leo and Erma (Evans) Colter. He graduated from Loras College, Dubuque, and the University of Louvain, Belgium. He was ordained June 25, 1966, in Louvain, Belgium, by the Most Rev. Victor J. Reed. He was an associate at St. Cecilia, Ames, 1966-67; faculty member at Wahlert High School, Dubuque, 1967-68; and a graduate student at Fordham University, 1969-70, where he obtained an M.A. in religious education. He was coordinator of religious education for the Cedar Rapids area, 1970-72, and a member of the faculty of LaSalle High School. Father Colter was a faculty member at Loras College, Dubuque, 1972-74, during which time he was also a student in the graduate department of psychology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was a member of the team ministry in Mason City, 1974-79, and a member of the faculty of Newman High School. He was chaplain, campus minister and instructor in theology at Mount Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, 1979-84. Father Colter was appointed regional director of spiritual renewal in the Charles City and Mason City Deaneries, 1976, and regional co-director of spiritual renewal for the Cedar Rapids Deanery, 1980. He was archdiocesan director of vocations and director of continuing education for clergy, 1984-89. During this time he was also chaplain at Visitation Convent, Dubuque, 1984-87, and pastor of St. Joseph, Rickardsville, 1987-89. He became chaplain at Mount St. Francis, Dubuque, starting in 1990. Around that time, he also again became a faculty member at Loras College in the Department of Religious Studies. While remaining on the faculty at Loras, he spent two years at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, where he earned his license in sacred theology. Father Colter was rector of St. Pius X Seminary, Loras College, 1993-99. He was pastor of Sacred Heart, Fillmore, 2001-03. In 2003, Father Colter was appointed pastor of Queen of Peace Parish in Waterloo and Evansdale and pastoral coordinator of Cedar Valley Catholic Schools. He retained these positions until his 2008 assignment as pastor of Immaculate Conception, Gilbertville, and St. Joseph, Raymond. He retired in July of 2010. During his brief year of retirement, Father Colter preached at numerous parishes across the country on behalf of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA), later renamed Unbound.

In the fall of 2011, he was named administrator of St. Patrick, Cedar Falls, during the illness of Fr. Everett Hemann. He became pastor of that parish in the spring of 2012, a position he still holds. At various times, Father Colter served on the Priests’ Council, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, the Personnel Advisory Board, the Lay Ministry Formation Committee and numerous other committees in the archdiocese. Under Archbishop Daniel Kucera, OSB, he established the Seminary Board, the sabbatical program for priests and the annual convocation. He also played a major role in the creation of the master’s degree program in religious studies at Loras College and in the founding of the perpetual adoration ministry in the Waterloo area. Father Colter has tentative plans to celebrate his anniversary at St. Patrick on October 9. “I give thanks and praise to God and thanks to all the people of this archdiocese for a wonderful 50 years and I would remind everyone that age only matters if you’re a cheese or a good red wine.”


Father Mark Nemmers, a former judge in the Metropolitan Tribunal, was born Oct. 23, 1939, to Julian and Ann (Reger) Nemmers of Dubuque. He graduated from Loras College in Dubuque and completed his theological studies at Mount St. Bernard Seminary, also in Dubuque. He was ordained June 4, 1966, by Bishop Loras Watters at St. Raphael Cathedral, Dubuque. He served as associate pastor of St. Matthew’s in Cedar Rapids, 1966-71; St. Joseph the Worker in Dubuque, 1971-76; St. Francis in Ossian, 1976-77; St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque, 1978; and Sacred Heart in Dubuque, 1979-80. “I enjoyed the small rural parishes most of all,” he said. “They were real communities of faith. It was a good time,” reflected Father Nemmers recently, as he recalled his years in ministry. He has served as a judge in the Metropolitan Tribunal from 1978 to 2015. He was chaplain for the Sisters of the Presentation, 1980-88. He was pastor of St. Theresa’s in rural LaMotte and Assumption in Sylvia, 1988-98. He was pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Dubuque, 1998-2004, and sacramental priest of Holy Trinity and Sacred Heart Parishes in Dubuque, 2004-2007. An open house to celebrate Father Nemmers is occuring at 5 p.m. June 11 at Windsor Park Retirement Apartments, 801 Davis Street, Dubuque.


Father Paul Otting, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, was born Aug. 24, 1935, to Leo and Helen (Gehl) Otting of Cascade. He graduated from Loras College and took his theological training at Mount St. Bernard Seminary, both in Dubuque. He was ordained June 4, 1966, by Bishop Loras Watters at St. Raphael Cathedral, Dubuque. He served as an associate at St. Joseph’s, Dubuque, 1966-70; St. John’s, Waterloo, 1970-71; Sacred Heart, Dubuque, 1971-74; All Saints, Cedar Rapids, 1974-77; St. Francis de Sales, Ossian, 1977-78; team ministry at Charles City and Roseville, 1978-81; St. Benedict’s, Decorah, 1981-83; and Immaculate Conception, Cedar Rapids, 1983-85. He was appointed pastor at St. Bridget’s, Postville, and St. Peter’s, Clermont, 1986-90; Visitation Parish, Stacyville, and Sacred Heart Parish, Meyer, 1990-96, along with St. Mel, McIntire, 1990-91; and St. Ansgar in the town of St. Ansgar, 1991-96. Father Otting was pastor of Holy Ghost Parish, Dubuque, from 1996 until his retirement in 2005. He celebrated his jubilee at the Loras College Jubilee for Priests on May 9. “Thanks and glory to God for the gifts of life, faith, hope, love, family, education, priesthood, archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity; all God’s gifts on my journey of 80 years of life and 50 years of priesthood,” said Father Otting, reflecting on his ministry.


Archbishop Emeritus Jerome Hanus, OSB, was born on the family farm between Brainard and Dwight, Nebraska, on May 26, 1940. At baptism, he was given the name George. He attended Assumption School in Dwight, where he was taught by the Notre Dame Sisters. He graduated from grade school in 1954. He continued there for high school until the family moved to Columbus, Nebraska, where he attended St. Bonaventure High School. In 1958, after high school graduation, he enrolled in Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, which was conducted by Benedictine monks. As he got to know the Benedictines better, he decided to join them, which he did in the summer of 1960. He made his first profession of vows as a Benedictine monk on Sept. 1, 1961, taking the religious name Jerome. After graduating from the college seminary with majors in philosophy and Latin, he was assigned to study theology in Rome at Sant’ Anselmo, which was the international Benedictine seminary. On July 30, 1966, he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Gerald T. Bergan of Omaha in St. Cecilia’s Cathedral. He returned to Rome to earn a licentiate in theology in 1967. Then he returned to Conception, where he taught theology for two years. In 1969, he went to Princeton, New Jersey, to pursue graduate studies in Christian ethics. He received a master’s degree in theology in 1970 and a master of arts degree from Princeton University in 1973. On Jan. 5, 1977, he was elected by the monks of Conception Abbey as their spiritual father and assumed the title of Abbot Jerome. To this responsibility was added the position of Abbot President of the Swiss-American Congregation of Benedictines in 1984. In July of 1987, he was appointed bishop by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained and installed as the bishop of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, on Aug. 24, 1987. He served in this position for seven years. On Aug. 23, 1994, he was named coadjutor archbishop of Dubuque. He succeeded to the See on Oct. 16, 1995. On the national level, he served as chair of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy from November of 1996 until November of 1999. In November of 2003, he began a three-year term as chair of the Committee on Consecrated Life, which relates to the life and ministry of religious sisters, priests and brothers. Archbishop Hanus retired in 2013 and now lives the life of a Benedictine monk at Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri. He teaches at the seminary operated by the monks and enjoys gardening. “I pray for the people of our archdiocese,” said Archbishop Hanus in a recent interview with The Witness. “I pray for the priests and others in leadership positions. I’m very proud of what God has accomplished through our ministry.” A Mass to celebrate the archbishop’s jubilee took place May 15 at St. Raphael Cathedral. Another celebration is planned for the weekend of July 30-31 at Conception Abbey.